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For Release: Thursday, May 7, 2015

DEC Temporarily Closes Areas in The Town of Southampton, Suffolk County for The Harvest of Shellfish and Carnivorous Gastropods

Closure Follows Finding of Marine Biotoxin in Shellfish

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods (whelks, conchs, moon snails) in certain areas in the Town of Southampton has been temporarily closed, effective immediately on May 7, due to the detection of a marine biotoxin. The closure is implemented to protect public health.

The closure impacts approximately 3,900 acres in the Town of Southampton, covering all the underwater lands in Shinnecock Bay that lie west of the southbound lanes of the Ponquogue Bridge and east of the western side of the Post Lane Bridge in Quogue. All harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in these lands is prohibited until further notice in an effort to protect public health.

On May 6, 2015, DEC also closed approximately 100 acres in the Town of Riverhead, covering all the underwater lands in Meetinghouse and Terry Creeks. All harvesting of carnivorous gastropods in this area is prohibited until further notice; shellfish harvesting in Meetinghouse and Terry Creeks is currently prohibited year round.

This action was taken after DEC determined that shellfish collected from monitoring sites in Weesuck Creek in Southampton and Meetinghouse Creek in Riverhead tested positive for saxitoxin, a marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). The samples were tested as part of DEC's marine biotoxin monitoring program. Carnivorous gastropods feed on shellfish and may accumulate biotoxins at levels that are hazardous to human health.

DEC will continue to monitor for the presence of biotoxins in shellfish at 13 monitoring locations around Long Island and implement closures as necessary to protect public health.

DEC will re-open areas as soon as possible based on the results of laboratory analyses that will be conducted over the next few weeks. A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of temporarily closed shellfish areas may be heard by calling (631) 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closure.

Additionally, maps showing the affected areas and information about the temporary closures are available on DEC's website.

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